Since Westerns have appropriated many plots of samurai movies over the years, it's only right that Japan returns the favor. I guess if you want to be technical, Kurosawa's samurai movies were directly inspired by the Westerns of John Ford, so this all goes full circle, in a way. Fortunately, it's a damned good Western they're remaking - Variety is reporting that Warners Japan will be remaking Clint Eastwood's classic and Best Picture award-winning movie UNFORGIVEN as a samurai movie, with Ken Watanabe playing the Munny role.
The director will be Lee Sang-il, who directed the film VILLAIN, which won major awards at Japan's equivalent of the Oscars in 2011. Joining Watanabe in the movie will be Koichi Sato (SUKIYAKI WESTERN DJANGO) and Akira Emoto (ZATOICHI: THE BLIND SWORDSMAN). The film, titled YURUSAREZARU MONO (Japanese for "Unforgiven") will open in Japan fall of 2013.
I love samurai movies even more than Westerns, and so for me this sounds terrific. Watanabe is a formidable actor and if anyone's going to carry off that role it will be him. The movie will be set at the same time as UNFORGIVEN - 1880's Japan, taking place at the island of Hokkaido. Watanabe will play a man, like William Munny, faced with debt who wants to collect one more bounty and retire. Unlike in UNFORGIVEN, Watanabe's wife is still alive, and an Ainu, who as a people were being forced to move from their homes by the Japanese at the time, not unlike the Native Americans.
So, gritty samurai action, a violent tale, and a remake of one of the finest Westerns ever made? I'm in.